Riina Laaksonen, CEO of Nordic Fit Mama tells us about its postnatal program.
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Riina Laaksonen: Thanks for asking. We live in Helsinki but have moved to Lapland, to Ylläs, for spring 2021. Our little boys go to elementary school here, and we are able to go snowboarding as much as we like. Also, we are much freer to move around here than in Helsinki. I’m able to do my work remotely from anywhere.
What has changed is that I have travelled due to work a bit, but Covid has forced me to stay in Finland. I spent October 2019 in the US (in Capital Factory Accelerator in Austin, TX) and planned to spend some time in the US also at the end of 2020. Obviously, that was not possible. Travelling gives me always a big energy boost, teaches me a lot, and of course, gives me a lot of new connections. I think changing scenery once in a while keeps your mind open, gives you perspective, and makes you see things more clearly.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Nordic Fit Mama.
Riina Laaksonen: This is the second company I’ve founded. Before starting as an entrepreneur, I worked in the ICT industry in Finland and Central Europe. In 2014 I made a brave decision and started a fitness studio in Helsinki city centre. We concentrated on women, especially mothers, and pretty soon, we started getting questions all over Finland. We were thinking about how it would be possible to help people outside our physical circle. That’s how we came up with online coaching, and later Nordic Fit Mama was born.
How does Nordic Fit Mama innovate?
Riina Laaksonen: I do it every day by living as free as possible. Living here in Lapland and being outside in nature is a part of it. I always encourage my team to think, test, try new things and ideas, and always welcome ideas. The bigger, the better. Even though we are not always able to try everything at the moment, it keeps our minds open. We can also always call each other and brainstorm.
How does the coronavirus pandemic affect your business finances?
Riina Laaksonen: At first, our sales stopped completely. I think people were in shock, afraid of doing anything. It normalized after some time, but the online coaching scene changed during the year 2020. A lot of new solutions and services came to market because, e.g., traditional gyms were forced to think about how they could be able to serve their clients when the gyms were closed. So the pandemic has definitely boosted all kinds of online services development, which is good. Also, if someone before the pandemic didn’t think online services are a good way to serve or take care of people, I’m sure everyone is familiar with their benefit now.
Did you have to make difficult choices regarding human resources, and what are the lessons learned?
Riina Laaksonen: We have been a market leader in Finland for some years, but now there’s a lot more competition. We, of course, would like to remain in our position in the market, and that’s why I actually made a big decision at the beginning of this year, and on April 1st, 2021, a brand new COO will start in our team!! It’s very exciting, and also a big risk, of course, but I believe we are able to achieve great things when we now have more hands and heads in our team. We definitely are ready to take a big step forward.
Lessons learned: for entrepreneurs, it is crucial to take risks. In order to develop, we have to step on to bigger shoes once in a while. It’s hard, exciting, and requires attention, concentration, and nerves of steel. Sometimes things go smoothly, sometimes not. If things don’t go as planned, you always have options B, C, X, or you can take a step back. Being afraid is not an option.
How did your customer relationship management evolve? Do you use any specific tools to be efficient?
Riina Laaksonen: We take really good care of our clients, always, that’s priority 1 for us. I believe that in every situation, it is possible to leave a client feeling very good and satisfied. We have used for 1.5 years Kajabi online coaching platform, which provides us with different CRM and marketing tools that are important for us.
Did you benefit from any government grants, and did that help keep your business afloat?
Riina Laaksonen: Yes, we have received help from Business Finland. With the help of BF, we were able to develop an online program for women in menopause and serve a much bigger segment of women. At the beginning of March 2021, we opened a digital clinic for women, and at first, we offer coaching for 45+ aged women. The next steps will be providing information and coaching for teenage girls as well, and mothers are already served under Nordic Fit Mama.
Your final thoughts?
Riina Laaksonen: I’m very confident when I look into the future. I know that we have a lot to offer in order to keep women healthy and happy. Digital services are here to stay. They offer people better possibilities to take care of themselves at home, with different experts, and prevent bigger health issues in the future. They also make it possible for us to export the world’s best maternal healthcare and make it easily and efficiently available for all mothers in the world.
Big changes and inventions happen when things are shaken. And that’s what Covid is doing for us. I believe that when this “unnormal situation” is over, we are stronger than ever to go forward.
As an entrepreneur, as a part of the Nordic Fit Mama’s core, I feel my energy is very important. I take that very seriously and take good care of it every day. I do things I love (e.g., snowboarding :)), I exercise, I enjoy spending time in nature… I think in that way, we as a company reflect our values and good energy to our clients, partners, and all people around us as well.